We are tired today (Wednesday) catching up on our rest from our long trip. Although a 3 hour time zone change is not much, it still is tiring to fly all day and shift your bio-clock back to Eastern Time zone. We spent most of the day on the base at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. We worked a long shift and had several cases. It is always rewarding to help out at NMCRS. These young marines do not get paid a lot and sometimes they really get themselves into money problems. Today we took a few pictures at our NMCRS office so you could see what our offices look like there.
We again had a large crowd for our Thursday OCS family home evening, 34 people. We had a lesson about achieving your full potential. One of the points I made is that you have to remember why you initially wanted to reach a certain goal and what motivated you to seek it. Sometimes we forget that initial desire, excitement and anticipation of pursuing a goal and thus become bogged down or stagnant as we seek it. I asked them all to remember why they initially wanted to become marines and how excited it made them to think about it. Afterward several of them said that it was good to hear that because in the trials and tribulations of OCS they had forgotten those initial reasons why they wanted to be here. Heavenly Father always guides us to say the right things there. We also got to cheer up several of them that were worried about getting dropped. It is the middle of their course and a lot of folks are getting dropped for not passing physical or written tests. So we tried to reassure them and encourage them. We absolutely love working with this group of young marines and feel blessed that we get to be a small part of their journey through OCS.
Friday we baked our first round of Halloween cookies to deliver- black cat cookies and pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies. We also had the Sister Training Leaders over for lunch and a family history lesson. We then went to Dumfries, near the base, and delivered our first 3 sets of Halloween Cookies to some military families that live off base. Only 16 more to go. But we love doing this!
Then on Saturday we had a wonderful Senior Missionary activity. We met in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is a two hour drive from our apartment. We had a great visit with the other seniors. We just love these folks and it was great to catch up. The primary activity was for each senior couple to talk about some of the most special activities that occur in their area. We all sent in a few pictures ahead of time to show some of the things we do. It was just amazing to hear all of the wonderful service that is being provided by the thirty plus senior missionaries herein Virginia – volunteering at a senior center, teaching lessons to shut ins, driving folks to and from church, serving in branch presidencies, providing activities for Young Single Adults, teaching institute, driving folks to the temple and to doctor appointments and on and on. We were overwhelmed and amazed at what is being done here in our mission by seniors. We told about our amazing OCS marines and how wonderful it is to work with them. After the meeting we had a great lunch of homemade soup in bread bowls and got to visit with our friends some more. Then we headed to a very cool mansion called “Swannanoa” near Charlottesville. Almost a year ago we toured a mansion in Richmond called “Maymont” that was built by a man who became rich buying, building and selling railroads after the Civil War. The mansion we saw today (see pics) was his summer home. It was huge and had gorgeous marble columns, scrollwork, magnificent marble stairways, and intricate fireplaces. It was built in 1912 for $2 million. But the place was really run down. The current owner is trying to make it into a bed and breakfast, but it will take millions of dollars to refurbish it. Nevertheless, it was amazing to see. It was on the top of a hill at the south end of the Shenandoah National Park and the views of the forested hills and valley were beautiful.
After our visit to the mansion we drove on the Skyline Drive through a portion of the Shenandoah National Park. It was spectacular. We saw splendid fall colors on the forested hillsides and some incredible views down into the Shenandoah Valley. It is an amazing park and we greatly enjoyed seeing it. But we did make a comparison with the scenery in our beloved Washington State, and we realize we live in one of the most beautiful areas of the whole USA. Shenandoah is awesome, but it is not any better than Snoqualmie Falls or Mt Rainier.
After putting 250 miles on the car we arrived home from Shenandoah tired but happy, which is how we often arrive home. But our night was not done. We attended an 8pm baptism at our ward for a young woman. It was a sweet baptism. We almost did not go because we were so tired from our long drive. But we love to support baptisms, especially new converts. We were glad we went. One of the Sister missionaries that we know well sang a solo of “I Believe in Christ.” It was wonderful. We did not even know she sang and she had a beautiful voice. Her testimony came through clearly and emotionally in the song. So nice!
What a wonderful Sunday. It began in one of our favorite ways, with our dear OCS group. Today we had four females attend our sacrament service. The guys all had liberty, and our one male member told us he was going to church with a friend in town. But we had a delightful morning with these amazing ladies. Our lesson was short and as they were sitting and enjoying refreshments they all began talking about their worries and hopes concerning OCS. They compared notes with each other about what classes were hard, who was the toughest Gunny Sergeant, and which physical test was the most demanding. One was a runner and loved the 3 mile run but hated the pull-ups. Another hated the run but loved the pull-ups. Still another liked all of the physical stuff but hated the written tests. It was incredible just to hear them describe the difficult training they are going through – a 5 mile hike with full gear and carrying a rifle, and a great deal of it uphill; a 9 mile hike at 4am with a blistering pace; a double run through the obstacle course; a comprehensive test over the history of the marine corps. It was exhausting just to hear about it. But they are almost over the hump and are starting to get a little bit of confidence. After our wonderful OCS service we attended our own ward and had excellent meetings. It was the primary program, a Sunday service in which all of the children under 12 read parts, sing and give talks. We have a huge primary and it was excellent. Lezlie taught a great lesson on Temple and Family History work. We are already starting to realize how hard it is going to be to leave this ward and we have grown to love the people here so much. After church we had 3 outstanding phone calls. First, one of our dear marine friends, Melanie Roy, called us from North Carolina just to say hello and see how we were doing. She was one of our original group that we met with for about ten months. She went on our Annapolis, Temple, and Marine Parade field trips, so we got to know and love her well. She is doing great in her advanced school and is excited about starting her real marine job, logistics, soon. She is one of the people that will make sure all the marines in California will get what they need when they need it. It was so delightful to talk to her and she thanked us for our support during her difficult training here. Second was a great call with Aaron. Although he is still having back problems he said there has been a little improvement. He is doing okay otherwise and is busy as ever at work. Finally my sister Karen called and we had a great visit. All is well in her world. She recently had an excellent trip to visit her son Nathan in Minneapolis. Her other son Ian visited there at the same time, so she got to have a few nice days with both of her boys. It was a huge blessing to have all three of these great phone calls. Speaking of blessings I need to tell about another one we have recently received. We expect to fund everything regarding our mission ourselves. Recently however, we have talked about money and the fact that we may need to cut back a bit on some or our refreshments or trips because we have been spending a lot on food. We contemplated, prayed, and discussed some ways we could spend a little less. And within a period of two weeks we received donations for our mission work from two different friends that were a total surprise. Both friends, neither members of our church, said that we were doing good work and they simply wanted to help. So we feel that we have been blessed and have been given a message from Heavenly Father that we are supposed to keep doing what we are doing. We are so grateful for this tender mercy of these additional funds we were not expecting. But it is typical of the blessings we have received while here on our mission. Doctrine and Covenants 11:3 “ … assist to bring forth my work according to my commandments and you shall be blessed.”